Monday, May 26, 2008

Top Dystopian Novels List

In general, I separate dystopian novels from science fiction, mentally. There is a lot of overlap, naturally. Still, books on this list are generally not also on the SF list.

1. 1984
2. Fahrenheit 451
3. Brave New World
4. Lord of the Flies
5. Handmaid's Tale
6. Animal Farm
7. We
8. This Perfect Day
9. Anthem
10. Atlas Shrugged
11. Camp Concentration
12. Planet of the Apes
13. The Sheep Look Up
14. Stand on Zanzibar
15. Logan's Run
16. 334
17. A Clockwork Orange
18. Mockingbird (Tevis)
19. The Diamond Age
20. The Castle
21. The Dispossessed
22. Alongside Night
23. The Last Starship from Earth

More to follow as I think of them.

Here is the Wiki Category: Dystopian Novels, which contains quite a few more.

When George Bush II was elected US President, there were a lot of predictions that the US would descend into a dystopian world very much like 1984, Handmaid's Tale, or Fahrenheit 451. The reason so many people made these predictions, is that they never truly learned the lessons of the dystopian authors. Nor had they ever truly studied the real world dystopias honestly--Castro's Cuba, Mao's China, Stalin's USSR, Sandinista Nicaragua, Chavez' developing dystopia in Venezuela, etc. Their predictions were ideologically based, rather than based on any realistic conceptual or evidence-based foundation.

In reality, it is the candidate that is supported most enthusiastically by the news media, entertainment media, and academicians that is most likely to cross into dystopian territory. In the 2008 US election, that likely candidate is not difficult to identify.


Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Musical Genes Located In Finland

Collaborating researchers from Finland and the USA have discovered genes for musical aptitude in Finnish families.
Molecular and statistical genetic studies in 15 Finnish families have shown that there is a substantial genetic component in musical aptitude. Musical aptitude was determined using three tests: a test for auditory structuring ability (Karma Music test), and the Seashore pitch and time discrimination subtests. The study represents the first systematic molecular genetic study that aims in the identification of candidate genes associated with musical aptitude.

The identified regions contain genes affecting cell extension and migration during neural development. Interestingly, an overlapping region previously associated with genetic locus for dyslexia was found raising a question about common evolutionary background of music and language faculties. The results show that musical aptitude is likely to be regulated by several predisposing genes/variants __SciDaily
It sounds as if the genes involved in musical aptitude are also involved in other functions as well. Brain functions involved in the sorting of syntax, rhythm, amplitude, scale, ratio and proportion, and many other facilities involved in skilled musical ability and interpretation will necessarily be utilised by other brain ensembles.

Still, little by little scientists studying gene expression are connecting the dots between genetic codes and real world skill. That is a cause for at least a small celebration.


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